Hitchens on blaming the victim

January 8, 2010 • 11:26 pm

by Greg Mayer

Michael J. Totten has an interview with Christopher Hitchens concerning the piece in the Guardian by Nancy Graham Holm, in which she blames Danes for the attempted murder of the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and his granddaughter.

Money quote:

These people [Holm and her ilk] are saying the grandfather and granddaughter were the authors of their own attempted assassinations. These are some of the same people who say that if I don’t believe in God I can’t know what morality is. They’ve just dissolved morality completely into relativism by saying actually, occasionally, carving up grandfathers and granddaughters with an axe on New Year’s Eve can be okay if it’s done to protect the reputation of a seventh century Arabian man who heard voices.

The piece by Holm is a truly execrable piece of nonsense, much worse than I had thought it would be. She believes (among other things) that: (a) the Danish Prime Minister should have apologized for the cartoons; and that (b) this would have prevented adverse reaction. Anyone who believes (a) doesn’t seem to have even a nodding acquaintance with the relationship between the government and the press in a liberal democracy; and anyone who thinks zealous arsonists and attempted murderers would be deterred by an apology has a more sanguine view of their appeasability than seems wise. Do read Russell Blackford’s analysis, linked to earlier by Jerry.

[The Guardian’s editors note two errors in Holm’s column, which they have corrected. One they missed is that she incorrectly describes Westergaard’s cartoon (did she not look at it carefully?); it depicts a fused hollow shell bomb, not a stick of dynamite. Hitchens, in his interview, states the cartoons were published in a “small town press”, which might be true on an international comparative basis, but Jyllands Post is Denmark’s largest circulation newspaper.]

h/t:  Andrew Sullivan